cars floated on Wall Street

After remaining fairly benign all day, the storm took a sudden turn earlier this evening, and – as you’ve probably read/seen – things went downhill fast.  The storm surge filled NYC up with water – cars floated on Wall Street, water poured into subway tunnels, a river formed in the Lower East Side – and the wind tore off a piece of my friend’s roof and dropped it in his backyard, ripped a crane off a skyscraper in midtown and threatened to drop it onto the street below, and ripped the front off of a building on 8th Avenue.  I thought it would be a bad storm, but I never imagined it would be this bad.

It wasn’t until the wind started in earnest that I felt any real fear.  It had been blowing casually all day, and then at about six or seven it announced itself in our apartment by blowing down the chimney and knocking my roommate’s fan onto the floor.  Then it really started to come –– not the strongest wind I’ve ever encountered, but it was relentless – it toppled garbage cans and rolled them down the street, set off car alarms in the neighborhood, and shook our apartment building just enough to be unsettling.

They’ve been saying for years that NYC is totally unprepared for a catastrophic flood, and while I think that Hurricane Sandy certainly reinforced that theory, I think that said catastrophic flood is still to come.

I’m not happy with this post, but I’m tired so it’s going to have to do.  Read the NY Times if you want the whole story.

everything but strawberry

Late last night I went to CVS to try and buy some batteries for my flashlight.  The streets were eerily quiet, as the buses and subways had been stopped hours earlier, and most people were hunkered down in their apartments.  I arrived at CVS to find the battery section completely drained of everything but the tiny hearing aid size.  I decided to buy some ice cream instead, and I found the freezer pilfered of everything but strawberry, but I like strawberry so that worked out okay. 

A gust of wind woke me up late this morning, and the wind has been getting stronger –– some of the stronger gusts have actually been shaking our apartment –– but there hasn’t been much rain yet.  There are still people and cars in the streets, although they’ve started to dissipate as the storm has gotten worse.  We still have power, so that’s fortunate, although we’ll see how long that will last.

I’m not sure what to make of all this.  It’s certainly exciting, and part of me can’t help but feel like the media is overblowing this a bit (no pun intended), but as the worst of the storm has yet to hit it’s hard to really say.  If the storm surge is as bad as they’re predicting in NYC, it would be very bad.

As I’ve been writing this, it’s gotten progressively worse outside, so I’m going to stop for fear my blog posting is making the hurricane angry, and I’d actually like to go outside and see what’s doing.

Confusion and Horrible Music in Las Vegas

“Which casinos are the good ones?” –Franny
“If I knew that, do you think I’d be driving this fucking cab?” –Las Vegas Taxi Driver

About three weeks ago, Franny & I took a much needed, albeit far too brief, vacation to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.  I’ve been meaning to post about the trip for some time now, but as life goes, it goes busy and full of distractions.
 Las Vegas was actually more obnoxious than I’d expected –– it’s definitely full of gambling; but it’s also full of horrible music, desperate and unfortunately dressed people behaving badly, and profound confusion.  I had an easier time making my way around South Korea than I did navigating the Strip.  I realize this is intentional, and it makes sense once you’re inside the casinos, but I’m not sure what purpose it serves when you’re outside trying to get in.  Perhaps they’re trying to make everyone feel like a winner upon entering, only to trap them inside and take all their money.  The Strip is also very crowded all the time (at least it was when we were there) so the unfortunate feeling of being herded is unavoidable.  As you’re being herded, you’re also being bombarded by card snappers offering “GIRLS DIRECT TO YOUR ROOM IN 20 MINUTES” alongside people dressed up like Big Bird or giant (marijuana) joints.  It’s a strange scene, made even more strange by the amount of people who consider it to be a child-friendly destination –– the person dressed like Big Bird was strutting like a pimp and high-fiving the joint as he walked by.

The fountains at the Bellagio were amazing, though, even though it took us nearly a half-hour to find them.  I’ve never seen water do shit like that, and now I’m looking into having fountains like that installed in my apartment.

We stayed at the Trump Hotel, which looks like a giant bar of gold, in part, because the windows are gilded with 24-carat gold.  Our room was upgraded to a corner suite with floor to ceiling windows and two full bathrooms –– one of which had a television in the mirror, a telephone in the toilet stall, and an Italian marble jacuzzi.  We ordered room service our first night there, and they came in and set the table with linens and silverware.  It was excessive, as was the Camaro convertible that our rental car was upgraded to (they were out of “standard” convertibles), but this sort of thing is what Las Vegas seems to be about.

I wanted to play blackjack, but it was hard to justify considering I’m still paying off my student loans, and the tables with $5 minimums were always mad crowded.  I considered a $10 minimum, but quickly reconsidered after watching a guy lose about $150 in ten minutes.  So we stuck to the slots, where Franny was considerably more lucky than I was, although neither of us won anything to email home about.

We took our Camaro on a day trip to the Hoover Dam, which is large and aesthetically pleasing, although the tour was anticlimactic (thanks Osama bin Laden).  The movie they showed us at the beginning of the tour was one of the worst I’ve seen at the beginning of any tour –– yes, I’m critical of such things, but they’d clearly spent a large sum of money updating the life-sized electrical generator exhibit, you’d think they could use some of that cash to update the introductory film.

During the “diversion tunnel” part of the tour (which is essentially half of it), I noticed that two people were recording the entire fifteen-minute talk by the tour guide on their cameras, and I thought: “You’re not going to watch that later.”  Simply because we can document every moment of our lives now doesn’t mean we should, and I think the line should be drawn long before anyone starts capturing the magic of the Hoover Dam tour guide to digital video, but clearly I am too late.

Eventually, we got to go outside and walk around on top of the dam, at which point I learned that Franny is somewhat afraid of heights.  Not heights, exactly –– drop-offs, although the railings didn’t seem to help.  It was a bit overwhelming, the looking down, and the railings weren’t all that high, so maybe there’s something to that fear.

After Vegas, we drove through the desert to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, which you’ve all heard of and probably seen pictures of, although it does look significantly more impressive and mind-boggling when you are standing at the edge of it.

More stuff happened at the Grand Canyon, but I need to go to bed, so here’s some pictures and here’s hoping I’ll post a part-two soon.  Life gets busy and full of distractions, it does.